THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Aboard Air Force One)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
The Village Museum Bucharest, Romania
7:06 P.M. (L)
Q What did you buy at the Peasant's Museum?
THE PRESIDENT: I bought just a representative sample of the things that were there.
Q What did you think of the reception?
THE PRESIDENT: It was amazing. It was truly amazing. I can't imagine how many people were there; because there were people, when I drove up, in blocks that had been blocked off by the police, who were way back -- weren't even visible from the stage. There were a lot of people there.
Q Were you surprised by the warmth?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I was surprised by the size and intensity of the crowd. I knew that the Romanian people -- my friend, Mr. Moses, here, keeps me updated and I knew that they were very friendly toward America. And, keep in mind, they really did suffer more in the recent past than any other people under any of the other communist governments -- I mean, what they went through here to gain their liberty. You saw behind the stage today -- the President and I were before the cross there and that cross marks the place where people were actually killed when they threw off the previous government. So I think that the price they paid is very fresh in their minds.
Q Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: They're a very impressive people. And I do believe if they keep going they'll make it, just like I said. They've just begun in the last year or so and they have an enormous undertaking with their economy. But if you look at what -- at the rich resources and the fact that the people here are very well educated, I'd say they have an excellent chance, a really good chance.
Q Did they express disappointment? Were they frustrated?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I think, of course, they were disappointed. But I think they also -- the leaders have managed this very well and they talked very frankly to the people and said -- well, you heard what the President said today. NATO is a part of their larger strategy. And as long as they see that we're all still on the same page with the larger strategy, that we want them integrated into the West, we want their democracy to flourish, we want their economy to do well, and that if they keep going the way they're going they will certainly be qualified for NATO membership. And everybody, a hundred percent of us in Madrid agreed that one of the things that we wanted was to have some more membership from the southern flank, because of the problems that are likely to develop in this region in the years ahead.
Q By NATO's test, where is their area needing greatest improvement -- the economy?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think for one thing when a country assumes the responsibilities of membership you want to be -- hopefully, would even be helpful because of the extra psychological boost it gives.
So Poland and the Czech Republic and Hungary, they've all been through that roller coaster that the economists call the J-curve, where you undertake the reforms, there's a drop in economic output, people suffer, they go through it, they bottom out and then they start coming back. And they've been through that. So you don't want to impose on a country big, new external burdens while they're going through that.
But, on the other hand, you don't want to take away the hope that these people have waited decades for.
Q Mr. President, what do you think about the King bullets not matching the James Earl Ray rifle?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm sorry, I don't know -- you're the first person who's asked me that. I haven't been briefed about it.
Q The test results show that they markings do not match.
THE PRESIDENT: I'll review it.
END 7:10 P.M. (L)